I served a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 2001 to 2003 in Madrid Spain. Prior to those two years abroad I had lived my entire life in Orem, UT. My time in Spain marks a fundamental point in my life. I grew in ways I’m sure I will never fully understand. I developed friendships that will last forever. And importantly, I came to love the Spanish language, and I learned to speak it well.
When I arrived home in February of 2003, I felt a lot of clarity about life. I knew that I wanted to study history and Spanish — with the hope that I could get into secondary education. I also knew that I wanted to get married. I didn’t feel desperate, just determined. I didn’t take me long to start going on dates. Lots of dates.
I remember my friends would sometimes tease me about how quickly I seemed to “fall in like” with girls at BYU. I would respond that there was nothing wrong with rushing into a relationship as long as I could quickly rush back out when I realized things weren’t working. And that happened quite a bit during those first several months home.
Like a lot of people playing the dating game, I suppose I always tried to put a positive spin on things, but the fact is, I had a couple of tough rejections over the spring and summer of 2003.
Despite tough times in the hunt for eternity, I had a great time that summer, working as a manager at Hogi Yogi in Northern Orem, driving around in my white 5-speed Ford Escort (with a sweet spoiler), and living in an apartment in South Provo with three of my best friends: Joseph Darowski, Kent Miller, and Brad Reid. Together we had a ball that summer, but when fall rolled around again and rent jumped back up, we broke up the gang and we each headed home to live back with our parents.
That’s when everything changed for me.
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